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C.C. Sabathia to rehab with Thunder on Thursday

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Injured New York Yankees starting pitcher C. C. Sabathia will be joining the Trenton Thunder on Thursday for his second of at least three rehab starts, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told WFAN’s Sweeny Murti on Monday afternoon. The left-hander has been on the disabled list since early May with degenerate cartilage in his right knee, a condition which has the potential to be an ongoing issue for the 33-year-old. Sabathia has been able to avoid surgery for the time being by receiving a stem cell injection.

Thunder manager Tony Franklin indicated he had not received a phone call on Sabathia’s rehab start yet, but would be happy to have anyone who can help his team break out of its month-long slump. After starting the month of June with a pair of victories, the Thunder have won just six of their past 24 games.

“I imagine that I will get a call sometime soon,” Franklin told the media prior to Monday’s game. “Good, he’s coming. We need a win and I’m not opposed to anybody who is going to come in and help us win.”

Sabathia made his first rehab appearance on Saturday with the Class-A Tampa Yankees, tossing 2 1/3 innings while allowing two runs on three hits and a walk. He also struck out two hitters on 36 pitches before being removed.

“I felt really good,” Sabathia told ESPN after the start. “I didn’t know what to expect. Obviously I want to be healthy and not have any problems, and got that accomplished…I couldn’t be happier with the way I felt physically out there.”

After sitting in the mid-90’s with his fastball for most of his career, Sabathia’s diminished velocity has been a major topic of discussion in the past year and a half. Prior to the injury this season, Sabathia was averaging 88.8 miles per hour with his fastball, the lowest average velocity of his career. During his rehab outing in Tampa, Sabathia reportedly sat between 87-89 mph with his fastball.

Sabathia has struggled mightily with the Yankees this season, recording a 3-4 record and a 5.28 ERA over 46 innings pitched. He has allowed ten home runs over his eight starts and opposing hitters are hitting .301 against him. This comes on the heels of his career-worst season in 2013, when he posted career worsts in losses (13), runs (122), home-runs (28), and ERA (4.78).

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